Carson City Cocks vs. Moneyball – 4 F.J. 47 (April 22, 2012) – Fantasy Baseball Trade Review (C.Beltran/C.Maybin)

SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT

Carson City Cocks vs. Moneyball 

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM THE INCONTINENT LEAGUE 

Decided April 22, 2012

Cite as 4 F.J. 47 (April 2012) 

Factual Background

A rotisserie fantasy baseball league called The Incontinent League (hereinafter referred to as “roto league” or “IL” is an 11-team NL-only keeper league utilizing an auction-style draft and transaction platform.  Teams are permitted to maintain up to ten (10) players during each off-season with individual players allowed to be kept for a maximum of three (3) consecutive years under contract.  Each team is also permitted to keep two minor league players which are in addition to the ten players kept.  This roto league also has a $26.00 draft salary cap, as well as a $36.00 in-season salary cap that is applicable for all teams.   

As with many rotisserie leagues, the Incontinent League uses the standard 5×5 scoring categories to determine the standings and prize money.  For offensive players, the five categories are: (1) batting average; (2) homeruns; (3) runs batted in; (4) runs scored; and (5) stolen bases.  For pitchers, the five categories are: (1) wins; (2) earned run average; (3) WHIP (walks+hits/innings pitched); (4) strikeouts; and (5) saves.  Statistics are cumulative throughout the course of the season and there are no head to head games contained within the Roto league.

The Incontinent League submitted a proposed trade between two league members and seeks an opinion on whether the trade should be approved.

Procedural History

The Carson City Cocks made a trade with Moneyball.  The Carson City Cocks traded Carlos Beltran (OF-STL, $2.00 in the first year of his contract) and Tyler Green (2B-STL, $0.50 in the first year of his contract) to Moneyball in exchange for Cameron Maybin (OF-SD, $2.50 in the first year of his contract) and Stephen Lombardozzi (2B-WAS, $0.10 in the first year of his contract).

Issue Presented

(1)   Should the trade between the Carson City Cocks and Moneyball be approved?

Decision

The Supreme Court of Fantasy Judgment typically favors individual fantasy sports participants and teams’ ability to make moves, transactions, and trades.  People pay money to participate in fantasy leagues, and generally they should be afforded the freedom to manage their team accordingly.  Whether success is bred from that individual’s decision-making is purely left to some skill, luck, dedication, and savviness.  4 Ponies v. Carson City Cocks, 3 F.J. 13 (May 2011).

It is well documented that there is a different analysis of trades in a keeper league as opposed to a non-keeper league.  A trade that may look facially uneven or lopsided could easily pass muster in a keeper league.  Trades made between teams in a keeper league need to be analyzed by other factors besides merely comparing statistics.  Grave Diggers vs. Chilidogs, 4 F.J. 5, 8 (January 2012).  These other factors include salary cap flexibility, contractual status of players, and long-term planning at the expense of the current season.  Smittydogs vs. Moneyball, 1 F.J. 32, 33 (June 2010); Winners vs. Seven Shades of Shite, 3 F.J. 97, 102 (July 2011) (holding that team owners in keeper leagues with no hope of contending in the current season must make critical roster management decisions of whether to trade established players to help build for the future).

The Court will evaluate the objective merits of a deal and ensure that the integrity of the league is maintained.  See Victoria’s Secret vs. C-Train, 2 F.J. 32, 35 (October 2010).  The Court will not undermine a fantasy owner’s ability to manage his/her team unless a deal is unfair or inequitable, ripe with collusion, or not in the best interests of the league.  Whether a trade is objectively   intelligent or popular will not be part of the analysis.  4 Ponies vs. Beaver Hunters, 3 F.J. 26, 27 (June 2011).  The virtue of a trade is measured in both quantifiable criteria and subjective needs of the teams involved.  Carson City Cocks vs. Stud Muffins, 3 F.J. 23, 24 (May 2011).

No evidence has been submitted indicating any alleged collusion or malfeasance.  As such, the Court will operate on the presumption that there is no collusive conduct between the parties.

At first glance, the trade of Carlos Beltran and Tyler Green in exchange for Cameron Maybin and Stephen Lombardozzi looks fair and even.  None of the players are considered elite fantasy options, so there are no red flags raised during an initial “sniff test.”  Beltran is the most established player involved in the trade, but he is clearly on the downside of his career and no longer possesses the power and speed combination he once had.  However, now two years removed from his knee operation, Beltran’s career could be temporarily re-invigorated with his arrival in St. Louis (similar to Lance Berkman in 2011).  This is evident based on the fact he already has five homeruns and is batting over .300 as of April 22, 2012.  Maybin has the potential to be a 20/20 player if he can ever establish some consistency and avoid injuries.  However, he has changed teams several times already in his young career and is now a prisoner of the cavernous ballpark in San Diego.  While Maybin hasn’t demonstrated enough plate discipline to truly be counted on for consistent production, his talent and potential must be considered for a 25-year old player being given every opportunity to shine.  Both Green and Lombardozzi are reserve infielders who will likely not have any significant impact this year. 

When analyzing the fairness and equity of a trade, the Court will consider each team’s individual needs to assess whether the trade subjectively made sense from each team’s perspective.  See Cajon Crawdads vs. Carson City Cocks, 1 F.J. 41, 42 (June 2010) (upholding a trade for Jason Bay because of the Carson City Cocks’ desperate need for a starting outfielder due to the demotion of Cameron Maybin).  This trade involves a swap of outfielders and second baseman, so positional needs were not a factor in this trade.  It appears that the Carson City Cocks wanted to improve in stolen bases by acquiring Maybin, who already has four this season and had 40 in 2011.  Beltran is no longer a stolen base threat at this stage of his career.  However, there is no question that the Carson City Cocks will sacrifice some batting average by obtaining Maybin.  On the other hand, Moneyball already has stolen base threats in Dee Gordon and Andrew McCutchen, so they could afford to deal Maybin.  By obtaining Beltran, they are upgrading slightly in power and most certainly in batting average.  Based on these factors, the needs of both teams are discernible.

In terms of the contractual and financial ramifications of the trade, there is little to no impact on either team.  All players involved in the trade are in their first year under contract.  The difference in salary cap money is only $0.10 which is negligible.  Perhaps the only real difference here is that Beltran may not be as productive by the time his contract expires as compared to Maybin who is not even in the prime of his career yet.  At this point, neither Greene nor Lombardozzi appear to be long-term solutions at the major league level for their respective teams. 

Based on the foregoing reasons, the Court hereby decides that the subject trade is fair, equal, and free of collusion.  There is a rational basis for both teams to make this trade with respect to roster management and the teams’ short and long-term goals.  The trade should be approved as it comports with the best interests of the league. 

IT IS SO ORDERED.

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